The machine in the garden comes to Ames

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Applied Imagination's train display at Reiman Gardens in Ames, including iconic structures such as the ISU Campanile, is made entirely from natural materials, such as gourds, grapevines, twigs, bark, bamboo and driftwood.


The adults outnumbered the kids at least five to one in the Hughes Conservatory of Reiman Gardens in Ames recently when trains, tunnels, towers and bridges were thrown open to inspection at the Reiman Gardens Railroad Exhibition, a new installation on view through Jan. 10, 2016.

Three trains, including the Dinkey, seemed to mesmerize the youngsters. For the more seasoned taste, several iconic Iowa State University structures — Beardshear Hall, Morrill Hall, the Hub, and the Campanile with its carillon music — were of great interest, along with multiple overhead bridges and several tunnels.

The charming garden railway, in some ways the centerpiece of the exhibition, was custom built by Applied Imagination, a nationally recognized company whose train displays are made entirely from natural materials, such as gourds, grapevines, twigs, bark, bamboo and driftwood. They plan to do a holiday reinterpretation of the exhibit, too.

According to Applied Imagination, they employ an “award-winning crew of creative artists, botanical architects and landscape designers producing original public garden exhibits, seasonal displays and garden railways.”

Their many award-winning garden railway displays include installations at the New York Botanical Garden, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Bellagio Conservatory in Las Vegas.

If their Ames installation catches your interest, Applied Imagination also has an installation in Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha running through October.

Reiman Gardens is open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the fall and winter months.

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